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Monday, July 22, 2013
JASDF, 5th AF commanders participate in bilateral refueling training
by Airman 1st Class Malia Jenkins, 18th Wing Public Affairs
KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- The 909th Air Refueling Squadron took to the skies July 11 for a bilateral refueling mission to help prepare Japan Air Self Defense Force pilots for an upcoming training exercise, Red Flag Alaska.
This mission had added emphasis; three top commanders participated in the mission aboard one of Kadena's KC-135 Stratotankers. Flying on the mission was Lt. Gen. Sam Angelella, U.S. Forces Japan and 5th Air Force commander, Lt. Gen. Yoshiyuki Sugiyama, JASDF Southwestern Composite Air Division commander, and Brig. Gen. James B. Hecker, 18th Wing commander.
"This is a great opportunity for both countries," Angelella said. "The 909th is the only active-duty tanker squadron in the Pacific, and this opportunity where we are going to refuel the F-15Js during a training sortie will prepare us for the bilateral deployment to Red Flag Alaska. It's also an opportunity for the Airmen of the two squadrons to get to know each other."
By attending the refueling mission, the generals had the opportunity to see the delicate process of how the aircraft are refueled. Angelella and Sugiyama also had the opportunity to operate the boom used to refuel the different aircraft.
Sugiyama said it's important for the two squadrons to work together and share their knowledge and experience. This training ensures both forces have the opportunity to work together and perfect their skills as a team, he added.
Both U.S. and Japanese pilots had the opportunity to work together in an operational environment which allowed them to adapt to the subtle differences in terminology and language.
Angelella said joint training opportunities improve squadron capabilities, help with preparation for the defense of Japan and help U.S. forces extend the reach of airpower.
Red Flag Alaska is a large coalition exercise that involves different aircraft in complex missions. The exercise provides U.S. and coalition forces an opportunity to train together, improving readiness for wartime coalition missions.
During his visit to Okinawa, Angelella also toured various bases across the island, learning about their missions and how they care for service members and their families, and how they provide for the common defense of Japan.